Riyadh gives the night before the low-cost Israir to fly its first planned route to the UAE using Saudi airspace.
Saudi Arabia agreed to allow Israeli planes to cross their airspace en route to the United Arab Emirates after talks between Saudi officials and White House senior adviser Jared Kushner, Reuters news agency and Israeli media reports.
Kushner and Middle East Envoys Avi Berkowitz and Brian Hook raised the issue for discussion shortly after they arrived in Saudi Arabia. “We were able to solve the problem,” an official in the administration of US President Donald Trump told Reuters on Monday.
The deal was drafted just hours before Israel’s first commercial flight to the UAE on Tuesday morning. The Israir flight threatened to be canceled without an overflight agreement.
The direct flights are an offshoot of the normalization agreements that Israel signed this year with the UAE, Bahrain and Sudan.
The UAE has already benefited from normalization, including the White House push to boost arms sales, including an advanced fighter jet, to the Gulf country.
“This should solve any problems that should arise when Israeli air carriers bring people from Israel to the UAE and back and back to Bahrain,” the White House official told Reuters.
Kushner and his team were due to meet the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, the Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman and the Emir of Kuwait later this week.
A goal of the trip is to convince the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to end a three-year blockade of Qatar.
Qatar has been under an air, land and sea blockade since June 2017 imposed by GCC members Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and non-GCC member Egypt.
They cut ties with Doha after claiming it supported “terrorism”.
Qatar has vehemently denied the allegations, stating that there is “no legitimate justification” for the breakup.